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Buying a home on $9.60 an hour
Prices now make buying possible for those singles earning lower wages
The bathroom has a smaller-than-normal sink. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Are you making at least $9.60 an hour at a 40-hour-a-week job to generate a gross annual income of $20,000?

Is you minimum monthly payment for non-mortgage installment debt for either credit cards, student loans or a car loan $300 or less a month?

Can you come up with or have someone help you with upfront costs of under $3,000 to get into a home understanding if you are in escrow before Nov. 30 you’ll qualify for a $6,690 tax credit - money back into your pocket – based on a selling price of $66,900 – that essentially means you’ll actually put $3,390 into your hands while at the same time paying less to own than to rent?

If you think this is too good to be true and that all cash buyers are making it difficult for those in lower income brackets to cash in on the most affordable period to buy a home in decade, guess again.

A fluke in the market is continuing to depress two bedroom, one bathroom home prices and even some less desirable three bedroom one bathroom homes. That fluke is the huge bulge in the number of households that can qualify for fairly decent three bedroom, two bathroom homes – and even four bedrooms – that are in the biggest demand. As a result many people who at any other time would be settling for a two bedroom, one bathroom starter home are in the hunt for the 3-2 combos.

They are coming up against a wave of all cash buyers who are fixing up homes and - in most cases – renting and not trying to resell. The fairly good glut of 3-2 homes is putting downward pressure on rents making it feasible for people who morally would have to rent a 2-1 to afford a 3-2 with relative ease.

This means there are progressively less all-cash buyers snooping around 2-1, 2-2 and even 3-1 listings.

All of this means that someone making $9.60 an hour working 40 hours who has a debt load of $300 a month can actually buy a home. They won’t be getting a 3-2 but they will be getting a place to call their own and to get them started.

A prime example is Jim Muthart of Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate’ listing at 318 Center Street.

At 888 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom in addition to a one-car garage, the place isn’t the Taj Mahl.

It has a back yard and side yard barely wide enough for a person to walk comfortably between the house and the fence.

It has a wall heater and an air conditioning unit. The bathroom has one of the smallest sinks you’re ever going to see in an American home.

The pluses, though could easily outweigh the minuses if you’re a single buyer on the lower end of the pay scale or a young couple starting out. It is fairly solid, has a unique character, and is in a good location and neighborhood at 318 E. Center Street across from the Manteca courthouse. Downtown is within easy walking distance.

What is existing today – that doesn’t exist six months ago  – is an extremely rare opportunity for single wage earners making just a few bucks above the minimum wage or a couple with minimum wage jobs being able to buy a house in Manteca for less than it would cost to rent.

They don’t have to look the other way at obvious defects but there are still choices out there that are in move-in condition and generally need cosmetic and/or minor work. They also don’t have to face a horde of all-cash buyers – at least not yet.

They have to be willing to purchase a two bedroom, one bathroom home.

Advantages existing today for low-income buyers won’t be around for too much longer. Whether it is a matter of months or a year or two is anyone’s guess. However, in normal times the first homes to go in value and the last to go down are the 2-1 homes because of the simple fact more people can afford them. When homes like the one on Center Street was selling for just under $300,000 a few years back, it was being bought by people with income who today could buy a 3,000-square-foot home at current market prices. Someone making $9.60 an hour back then was way out of luck.

The Center Street home is now owned by Fannie Mae. The previous owner rented it for $800 a month. With less than $3,000 upfront, it will cost $490 a month to purchase including insurance and taxes. That is $310 a month less than what it cost to rent just a few months ago and $300 to $400 less than what it costs to rent a two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment without a garage in Manteca.

That $490 a month housing cost will actually be lower once federal income tax deductions are factored into the equation.

It has been well over 50 years that someone in Manteca making near minimum wages could afford to buy a home.

Some may ask if prices will go lower as there are more foreclosures out there in the pipeline, The answer is probably not since banks are gauging the market to avoid depressing prices further. That means you won’t see an onslaught of foreclosures for sale that increases the inventory significantly which in turn would reduce prices even further.

This may indeed be a once in a lifetime opportunity for hardworking people with smaller paychecks to become homeowners in Manteca.

It won’t last forever.

For information on the home at 318 Center St. contact Muthart at 602-8593.